Punchinello’s Chronicles

October 8, 2008

Presidential Debates: Pointless?

Filed under: Foolish Rants — Punchinello @ 2:14 am
Tags: , ,

I must be too broke, or too old. Probably both. I watched a little bit of the presidential debates tonight, less than a month from the 2008 elections, and finally just had to turn them off. All I saw was slogan sound-bytes, meaningless drivel, and Beltway blather. I’m not even angry at this point, so much as spiritually numb, and as disgusted as I’ve ever been in my life.

For me, there isn’t all that much risk in the current economy. I lost everything back when this all started. I mean, when it really started, not the current chapter. My life went in the tank with Enron, Worldcom, and all the other companies of the time going bankrupt. Before that was the Savings & Loan fiasco, although in the end, the US government made some money on that one.

I remember the Chrysler bailout too, and of course the 9/11 attack and ensuing financial crisis. Nope, I’m pretty much at the bottom 1% of the economy now, one step above homeless, so this isn’t really all that scary for me. It took years, a slippery slope, circumstances, age, and denial, but at least I’m at the bottom and starting my way back up. Maybe.

All the folks who are just now starting that skid down the mountain are getting a little anxious. There’s all the denial I went through, and pretending that something will happen. Nobody knows what or when, but it just can’t go on like it is, right? Nah…of course it can.

One of my all-time favorite jokes: The pessimist is talking with the optimist and says, “Well, it can’t get any worse!” The optimist says, “Sure it can!” (I heard that on “The West Wing,” long ago, and it still cracks me up!)

Listening to John McCain, I was reminded thoroughly of Fagan from “Oliver Twist,” combined with a little bit of Captain Hook talking to the lost boys. On and on, just the same old Washington rhetoric I’ve now been listening to for more than 40 years.

Then there’s Barack Obama with his overly assertive posture, spouting empty phrases, pretending that he’s in charge. He reminds me of Charlie Sheen in the movie “Wall Street.” All of it reminds me of grade school macho strutting covering up empty air. When Mr. Obama said that the computers that started the computer revolution were invented by the government, I wondered what happened to IBM, Microsoft, Intel, AMD, Netscape, and most importantly, Texas Instruments?

I’m just utterly fed up with all this crap. Yes, I get that we can’t have discussions of substance on real issues because there isn’t any time. We’ve only been campaigning for two years, and those issues are far “too complex” for the average reading level of an 8th grader. Those of us nincompoops out in the flatlands of the Midwest wouldn’t understand it. Fine.

But why these sham debates? The audience in the second one, the town hall meeting format, looked like mannequins, all dressed up like zombies in a really scary monster movie. I wasn’t sure if they were alive, until one of them popped up and like, totally on the spur of the moment, asked a question.

I’m pretty sure it’s so that a large voting block of citizens will be able to put a face to the names they see as they drive down neighborhood streets. McCain/Palin, or Obama/Biden! Those signs shout out at us from lawns and empty corner lots. No faces, but lots of spelling, and you know how people are about reading!

The best idea would be to make the ballot into a McDonald’s cash register type of thing with pictures of each person on a button. They could have braille, English, Spanish, and what…Chinese? Want to make it fair, after all.

It’s just a real shame, a tragedy, and a whole lot of pathos. At this point, I don’t really care if Sarah Palin knows this, that, or the other thing. I’m just happy to hear anyone at all speak in plain English! But one thing for sure: There isn’t a chance in hell that any blessed thing is going to change in Washington following this November’s election.

I feel a little sorry for all the people who truly believe there’ll come a change. Particularly if they vote for Mr. Obama. The only changes are going to come as a result of reality taking place outside of Washington. And as usual, politicians will be only capable of reacting. There’ll be no initiatives, proaction, or real meaningful work at all. It’s been that way for half a century, pretty much exactly the way it was in 1925.



  1. Mr. Obama’s comments about starting another successful industry out of alternative energy has merit in my opinion. I live in the Bay Area and work in Silicon Valley. There is a LOT of money here and a LOT of extremely wealthy, well-off tech companies with new startups popping up all the time. In fact, I work at one right now.

    So how could R and D in alternative fuels and propulsion pay off? I’ll make a comparison. Back in the 60’s when Intel revolutionized micro circuitry and started building processors, it kick started a whole industry- the tech industry. From that thousands of smaller companies sprung up and eventually created the largest industry in the nation. It all started with one simple idea: deliver information faster, and make it cheaper.

    A good comparison is electric cars. As we speak, GM is betting their entire future on one car: The Chevy Volt, which is a specialized electric car that uses a parallel electric drivetrain and a tiny gas or ethanol engine that simply recharges the batteries once they deplete. ingenious. The challenge was how to make a battery out of Lithium Ion that wouldn’t overheat, could maintain a charge for over 10 years in all kinds of conditions, and propel the car over 40 miles on a charge. It has so far taken GM almost 3 years to develop the battery. They have been partnering with numerous suppliers to do so.

    40 miles on a single charge is good, but its just a start. This technology didn’t hardly exist until a few years ago. Much has been gained in the knowledge of batteries. Now just imagine that if that much could be accomplished in a few years, how much more could be with more effort and emphasis? What about cars that could go 3 and 400 miles on a single charge that can recharge in 10 minutes? It is possible if we focus our attention on the research. Just from developing batteries alone, there is a legitimate chance of eliminating the need for imported fuel.

    Ironically, there is already one company- Tesla motors- out here in Silicon Valley that will be rolling out all-electric sedans with 150 mile ranges in two years. As one can see, there is already interest in this direction. Now just imagine all of the other myriads of applications that higher technology solutions such as these would have in changing our world? I am certainly not what you’d call an environmentalist. Heck- my lawn mower is a two cycle model that spews out blue smoke. But I do believe in the very real implications of research and development to create new industries.

    In regards to the debates, well, they’re mainly to show people what kind of personalities the candidates have. Its true that many people vote for stupid things like the way someone looks, talks, and sounds. You have to cover all your bases as a politician. In regards to Mccain, well he had a chance to be as nasty as Mrs Palin seems to be these days but didn’t ” put on the gloves”. That was smart. I liked that they actually talked about politics.

    Comment by bob — October 9, 2008 @ 10:16 am | Reply

  2. I have no argument with alternate energy systems, and in fact, that’s what Gov. Palin includes whenever she ALSO speaks about coming off energy import dependence with Alaskan oil. There’s no debate there, but only a question of whether Obama actually means what he says.

    For a debate…to be a dog-and-pony show, highlighting personalities, runs contrary to the whole concept of debate. Instead, a debate is a venue for a reasoned argument in favor of or against a particular question. A Presidential debate includes many fundamental questions, none of which were argued at all.

    If I want a personality show, I’ll watch something like Oprah or The Tonight Show. I’m not interested in a president’s personality. I want to know their character, that’s for sure, but in a debate I want to know their reasoned position, their reasoning method, their rationale, and how they disagree with the opposition argument.

    Comment by Punchinello — October 10, 2008 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

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